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IVF Petrie Dish

Imagine having 15 miscarriages.

Maybe you can shrug off the first one or two and keep trying to have children, to create a family. But soon every positive pregnancy test brings a sense of dread, of sad inevitability. Your body becomes your enemy.

In 1998, my group at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in suburban New Jersey was part of a team that developed a way to test for a genetic variant called a translocation, a swapping of parts of one chromosome with a different chromosome. For the most part, people with genetic translocations are completely fine; they have all of the same genes as anyone else. The problems arises when their cells have to split their chromosomes to make eggs or sperm, most of which have too much or little of some of the translocated genes. These unbalanced sperm and eggs create unbalanced embryos, which rarely develop past the second trimester.

By using fertility drugs to mature a number of eggs at once and fertilizing all of them, my colleagues and I were able to identify the small number of...